Actions - What are they and how can they be of use to me?
Actions are just like a macro or script in a spread sheet. They are just a code to replay a set of commands. If you have read all this workflow it is quite complex and would take a long time to recreate all those steps time after time. So I record an action for each step of my work flow. It is simply a case of naming your action, performing the process and pressing the stop button. You then have an action that will repeat everything you have just done over and over again. So let’s make one.
I am going to make two actions to help me with dust spot removal. Have your image open and ready to remove those pesky spots. Open your action palette (Alt F9). First I need to create an action set where my actions will be kept and named. So look at the bottom of the action palette and press the folder icon. This will open a box ‘New Set’. Now give your action a name. In this example let’s call the first one ‘Equalize ON’ and press ok. You will now see it appear in the action palette. We are now ready to record our action:
Press the ‘create new action’ icon (right of the create new set icon). First give the action a name - for this I will give it the same name as the set “Equalize ON”. The next box lets you choose which set it will be kept in - the ‘Equalize ON’ set should automatically be selected. Next ‘Function Key’. I think I am going to use this action a lot so I want to assign a function key to it for ease of use. I am going to select F2 and tick the Ctrl box. This means that once I have created my action I can run it by simply holding down the Ctrl button and pressing F2. The next step is colour. This lets you pick what colour your action button will have when you switch to button mode. We will see that later. Now we are ready to record our action, so press the record button. You will see the red record button is on. So create a duplicate layer > Equalize it > select the background layer on your layer palette > select the heal brush and the size you want it to be. Now we will stop the recording by pressing the black square to the left of the record button to stop. That’s it - you have yourself an action. You can see the steps you have just taken on the action palette.
So now let’s create another action to remove the equalized layer. This involves the same process:
create a new action set called ‘Equalize OFF’; create a new action with the same name; assign Ctrl F3; colour green; press the record button. Select the background copy layer; press the delete button; select the zoom toll (Z) and press stop. Now we run either of these two action just by pressing the keys we assigned to them – easy !
Now if you go to the
top right part of your action palette to the wing menu and open
it the very top command is button mode. Select this and your messy
looking actions will turn into a set of neat buttons just waiting
for you to use them. I create an action for each step of my workflow
and for some of the adjustments inside some of the sets.
Let’s look at what I have: The first two buttons will rotate my image by 0.25 degrees, either clockwise or counter clockwise. This is for those tricky shots that don’t have any obvious reference to use the ruler tool. The next two buttons are the ones I have just created The first one makes a duplicate layer and equalizes it and selects the heal tool. The next deletes the duplicate layer. Then I have my main adjustment that I have just used and you can see the 4 layers it has created for me. I can now go and tweak each layer if I want. The curve layer can be a little fiddly so I have an action to add 5 and 10 to my curve. Then I have a resize button that sizes my image to 1200px wide or 1024 tall for portrait images. I have a flatten button that flattens my image. Then two sharpening buttons, one for my edge sharpening routine; the other creates a masked layer so I can selectively sharpen.
That’s it !!
I hope you find this workflow helpful to you. It should help you to be able to produce consistent results in a short period of time.
All my Photoshop skills have been picked up over the years by simply using the program, asking questions in forums and of fellow photographers. I would also like to thank Guy Gowan who has produced some excellent retouching guides on DVD and from who I have pinched the term ‘WANG’ !!! Also to Mr Paul Markman better know as Dr Worm for his assistance in the editing of this workflow.
The finished images I
have used for this tutorial can be viewed below.
Questions and suggestions most welcome.
Good luck .. Jid